Or so it would appear, after solving the mystery of the missing salary surveys. After going into full Nancy Drew mode, I did a public records request for documents indicating that the 2008 salary survey for non-sworn personnel was “inaccurate,” and why it was removed from the internet. I got my answer. Sort of. First of all, it turns out that the City apparently has NO documents indicating that the salary survey is inaccurate. But after I posted it here to support the idea that public employee salaries are to blame for Oakland’s budget woes, Vice President of Local 21 Jeff Levin shot off an email to City Administrator Dan Lindheim demanding that it be removed from the City’s website. He referred to the salary survey as “outdated” and “incorrect” and claimed that the survey “was supposed to have been removed at conclusion of negotiations." His email closes with: “Please have them take it down immediately." And just like my hero, Captain Picard, Mr. Lindheim “made it so." Within hours, he issued the order that it be removed, and poof, it was gone. Not surprisingly, the totally inaccurate and misleading “FAQ” page about Measure Y is still up.
The City is claiming it has no documents indicating that the salary survey is “inaccurate.” But I guess a union leader’s say-so is enough for the City. I was informed that other responsive documents that I had asked for were protected by the “attorney-client privilege.” Can’t imagine too many attorneys getting involved in the discussion about how much employees in neighboring cities get paid, but whatever. The admission that there are no documents showing that the salary survey is inaccurate, and was taken down at the command of a union leader pretty much says it all.
So out of curiosity, I went to Local 21’s website to see what kind of a deal they have with the City. I look at union contracts all the time as part of my job, so I know a sweet deal when I see one, and these folks have some pretty sweet deals. Like 100% premium coverage on a Kaiser family plan. But not too many of you guys have your employer paying for 100% health coverage for you and your eight kids. But Local 21 members do. And they also get full dental coverage that covers orthodontia. Gotta tell you, I have NEVER seen that in a contract; I’m sure it costs a pretty penny. Then there’s the provision for a “COBRA supplement” fund. The City is supposed to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into this fund to pay for COBRA health coverage in the event of employee layoffs. Now, Obama’s plan, the “AARA,” already provides for substantial COBRA subsidies. Under this deal, laid off employees will pretty much get their entire health premiums covered! Unbelievable! Are you starting to understand why we’re broke? http://www.local21.org/chp_oak/tas/Oak_TA_2-of-3.pdf
Now, what did the City get in exchange for all this, you might ask? Well, I was happy to see there was an agreement reached on the “Citywide Code of Conduct,” under which City employees are supposed to deliver, “effective, courteous, and responsible service.” It provides that “proper behavior” includes “promptness” and “efficiency.” Wow. Like we had to negotiate with the union for something like that? Like those things aren’t a given for any employee working in the “real world?” Oh, and the chief labor negotiator for the City got paid $213,000 for one year of negotiating with the various unions. I seriously doubt that’s a full time job. And he gets paid as much as Russo? Well, I guess maybe if you have to negotiate over such basics as an employee being “courteous,” you might be sitting at the bargaining table for eons, but seriously folks!
As for the mystery of the other missing salary schedule - the one done in 2003 that cost $113,000 to study 200 positions? Well, the City has admitted they totally can’t find it! (It never dawned on them to ask the consultant for another copy. Sigh). And it never went to the City Council. They never saw it. Doesn’t seem too “efficient” to me. Is that a violation of the “Citywide Code of Conduct?” On the other hand, when the City informed of these embarrassing facts, they were very courteous about it. Not prompt, mind you, but courteous.